The Ugly Truth (2009)

The Ugly Truth
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah, Kirsten Smith
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Bree Turner, Eric Winter, Nick Searcy, Jesse D. Goins, Cheryl Hines, John Michael Higgins, Yvette Nicole Brown
Seen on: 21.1.2018

Abby (Katherine Heigl) is a producer of a morning show. Due to faltering ratings of said show, her boss hires Mike (Gerard Butler), whose claim to fame is hosting The Ugly Truth, a show that tackles matters of relationships in a very male, if not misogynistic way. Abby is outraged at this choice of host. But since she herself doesn’t do very well in matters of relationships either, pining after her neighbor Colin (Eric Winter) who she thinks of as the perfect man, she strikes a deal with Mike at his suggestion: he will help her reel in Colin, and she will work with him.

The Ugly Truth is absolutely horrible. It bowled me over with its hatred masquerading as some good old fun. It’s sexist and misogynistic. It’s so bad, it even makes a case that misandry does, in fact, exist. I hated it.

Mike espouses some horrible views. He’s one of those guys who think they are being super-rational, explaining social conventions with biology and evolutionary psych, completely ignoring historical and cultural differences, but at least they don’t need to think about their emotions or consider their behavior. In fact, it’s not only perfectly fine for them to behave without any consideration for anybody else, they couldn’t be considerate if they wanted to – their behavior is entirely biologically determined after all. And nobody can go against biology.

It’s a world-view that is insulting to pretty much everyone. Not only that, it’s factually wrong. But it’s pretty lucrative to peddle that shit. Now, I was hoping that The Ugly Truth would actually show just how much bullshit those “arguements” are. I did not expect a full-out critique of it, but at least a little bit of resistance, but no. Instead The Ugly Truth really thinks that shit is the ugly truth: we may not like it, but tha doesn’t make it any less true (that’s fair. It’s reality that makes it less true).

But if that’s the truth, how do you craft an ending that still works for a romcom – and this is a romcom, even if it pretends that love doesn’t really exist? Well, you show that Mike may talk a big game, but things aren’t quite as black-and-white. Underneath all the misanthropy, there’s a big heart. That’s a tried and tested trope, but The Ugly Truth is one of the shoddiest executions of said trope, barely bothering to redeem Mike in any way, shape or form.

That means that the film mostly consists of humiliating Abby and Mike being right with a shit-eating grin in his face. I don’t know why anyone would want a film like that. I certainly don’t. I still don’t know why I actually finished it, it was so bad.

Summarizing: Just no. Really, really, hard and all-encompasing NO.

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